April 8, 2012 in Sports

Vancouver top seed for NHL playoffs

 
Associated Press photo

Vancouver Canucks center Andrew Ebbett tries to get a shot past Edmonton Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk.
(Full-size photo)

NHL: The Presidents’ Trophy, given to the team with the most regular-season points, is a nice honor, and an achievement to note. But with only seven winners having moved on to a Stanley Cup title after snaring the award, it often begs the question:

Does anyone really want it?

Well, Vancouver answered that on Saturday, as the Canucks played with a purpose, posted a 3-0 win over visiting Edmonton in the regular-season finale, won the Presidents’ Trophy and will be the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs that begin later this week.

Vancouver, which finished with 111 points and outlasted the St. Louis Blues (109) and the New York Rangers (109) for the regular-season’s top prize, will play Los Angeles in Round 1. The Kings fell to the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference as a result of a 3-2 overtime loss in San Jose.

The Los Angeles-San Jose game also finalized the entire West playoff picture. The No. 2 seed Blues will meet the No. 7 Sharks, while the No. 3 Phoenix Coyotes take on the No. 6 Chicago Blackhawks, and the No. 4 Nashville Predators collide with the No. 5 Detroit Red Wings.

It is the Canucks’ second straight Presidents’ Trophy. Vancouver advanced to the Stanley Cup finals last season before losing to the Boston Bruins in seven games.

The NHL will announce the entire first-round schedule today.

A few time zones away from Vancouver, the East postseason mix was completed when the Panthers defeated the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-1, securing the Southeast Division crown and the No. 3 postseason seed. They will meet the No. 6 New Jersey Devils in Round 1.

The Rangers, who reserved the East top seed on Tuesday, will meet the No. 8 Ottawa Senators, who drifted down to the last seed after losing three in a row to close the year.

The other two East series feature the No. 4 Pittsburgh Penguins meeting the No. 5 Philadelphia Flyers, and the No. 2 Boston Bruins, the defending Stanley Cup champions, taking on the No. 7 Washington Capitals.

• Stamkos reaches 60 goals: Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos scored his 60th goal of the season and Teddy Purcell had a hat trick – including the overtime winner – and the Lightning ended their season with a 4-3 victory over the host Winnipeg Jets.

Only Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals has reached the 60-goal mark since 1996. Just 19 players have scored 60 goals or more in a single season.

Boston College wins NCAA championship

College hockey: Steven Whitney scored twice and Boston College beat Ferris State 4-1 in Tampa, Fla., for its fifth NCAA hockey title and third in five seasons.

The Eagles (33-10-1) finished with a 19-game winning streak, outscoring their opponents 77-21 during that span. Ferris State (26-12-5) was making its first Frozen Four appearance.

Pierce leads Celtics past Pacers

NBA: Paul Pierce scored 24 points to help the Boston Celtics beat the Indiana Pacers 86-72 in Indianapolis. Boston snapped a two-game skid and remained ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers at the top of the Atlantic Division.

The Pacers had won four in a row and had scored more than 100 points in five consecutive games, but they matched their lowest point total of the season against Boston. Indiana shot 35 percent from the field, made just 5 of 22 3-pointers and committed 19 turnovers.

• Bucks put away Trail Blazers: Beno Udrih scored a season-high 21 points, Brandon Jennings also added 21, and the host Milwaukee Bucks beat the Portland Trail Blazers 116-94 to tighten the race for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

Milwaukee moved within a half-game of idle New York with its fourth straight victory.

LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 21 points for Portland.

• Kobe sits and Lakers lose to Suns: Shannon Brown scored 20 of his 24 points in the third quarter, leading the host Phoenix Suns to a 125-105 victory over a Los Angeles Lakers team playing without Kobe Bryant for the first time in two seasons.

An injured left shin ended Bryant’s string of 138 consecutive regular-season games played.

Clippers near Pacific lead: Blake Griffin had 27 points and 14 rebounds, Randy Foye scored 25 points while hitting seven 3-pointers, and the surging Clippers moved within a half-game of the Pacific Division lead with a 109-94 victory over the Sacramento Kings in Los Angeles.

Chris Paul had 19 points and 15 assists in the Clippers’ eighth win in nine games overall. The Clippers (34-22) are right behind the Lakers (35-22) for the division lead and the No. 3 playoff seed.

Timbers lose at home to Chivas USA

MLS: Nick LaBrocca’s goal in the 82nd minute lifted Chivas USA to a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over the host Portland Timbers.

The Timbers failed to hold on to a lead for the second straight game.

Scottish striker Kris Boyd got his second goal of the season in the 17th minute for Portland.

• Kansas City continues hot start: Kei Kamara scored on a diving header late in the first half and Sporting Kansas City beat the David Beckham-less Los Angeles Galaxy 1-0 at Kansas City, Kan., to improve to 5-0.

Sporting is the first club to begin a season with five regulation wins since Los Angeles opened 12-0 in 1996, Major League Soccer’s inaugural year.

Beckham has been plagued by a series of nagging injuries and didn’t make the trip.

U.S. takes 2-1 lead in Davis Cup quarters

Tennis: Bob and Mike Bryan defeated Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (4) to give the United States a 2-1 lead over France in their Davis Cup quarterfinal in Roquebrune, France. The Bryans, the top-ranked doubles team, have not lost a Davis Cup match since 2008.

Today in the best-of-5 quarterfinal, American John Isner, ranked 11th, faces sixth-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in singles. Teenager Ryan Harrison, ranked 66th, will play France’s Gilles Simon, ranked No. 13.

Williams reaches final: Serena Williams powered past Samantha Stosur 6-1, 6-1 to reach the Family Circle Cup final in Charleston, S.C.

Today, Williams will face Lucie Safarova, a 6-0, 6-0 winner over Polona Hercog.

Ex-NFL star Sapp files for bankruptcy

Miscellany: Former NFL star Warren Sapp owes more than $6.7 million to creditors and back child support and alimony, according to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing in South Florida.

Sapp’s $6.45 million in assets includes 240 pairs of Jordan athletic shoes worth almost $6,500, a $2,250 watch and a lion skin rug worth $1,200. He also reported losing his 2002 Super Bowl ring with the Bucs and his 1991 national championship ring from the University of Miami.

• Raiders sign former Giant DE Tollefson: The Oakland Raiders have signed free-agent defensive end Dave Tollefson. The 29-year-old had a career-high five sacks last season while playing in a reserve role for the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

Sanchez wins Tour of Basque Country: Olympic champion cyclist Samuel Sanchez won the Tour of Basque Country by overtaking fellow Spanish cyclist Joaquin Rodriguez during the final stage, a time trial around Onati, Spain.

• U.S. women rout Canada: Monique Lamoureux-Kolls scored three goals and twin sister Jocelyne Lamoureux had two in the three-time defending champion United States’ 9-2 victory over Canada in both teams’ opener at the Women’s World Hockey Championships at Burlington, Vt.


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